Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Book Review: THE WINTER'S CHILD by Cassandra Parkin

Author: Cassandra Parkin
Publisher: Legend Press
Read: August 2018
Expected publication: out now

Book Description:

Five years ago, Susannah Harper's son Joel went missing without trace. Bereft of her son and then of her husband John, Susannah tries to accept that she may never know for certain what has happened to her lost loved ones. She has rebuilt her life around a simple selfless mission: to help others who, like her, must learn to live without hope.

But then, on the last night of Hull Fair, a fortune-teller makes an eerie prediction. Susannah is told that this Christmas Eve, Joel will finally come back to her.

As her carefully-constructed life begins to unravel, Susannah is drawn into a world of psychics and charlatans, half-truths and hauntings, friendships and betrayals, forcing her to confront the buried truths of her family's past, where nothing and no one are quite as they seem.

My musings:

I really enjoyed Cassandra Parkin’s novel Lily’s House, so I was very eager to read her latest, especially when I heard it was a “ghostly winter mystery with a modern gothic flavour”. It sounded irresistible!

With an eye for detail and a very unique voice that captured my attention straight away, Parkin has a real knack in bringing her characters and settings to life. As in Lily’s House, I loved the mixture of the unreliable narrator with just the slightest touch of the magical, this time in the form of mystics and fortune tellers. Truth or lie? Reality or fantasy? This question was ever foremost in my mind whilst reading this book, as Susannah’s mind slowly unravels under the strain of looking for her missing child. I loved the way Parkin explored the demons of a mother whose child has vanished without a trace – surely every parent’s worst nightmare – and the ways in which she is trying to make her life whole again.

Family secrets again feature strongly in this novel, adding the irresistible spice that will make you sit up late into the night to get answers. Which is the very reason I will not delve into the story line too deeply here. I recommend going into this one blindly and letting yourself get swept up in the rapids of the narrative, twisting and turning and bumping over rocks, head under water gasping for breath.

Yes, there is also that atmospheric, bleak and chilly setting that helps your blood run cold as all the truths are finally revealed in a kaleidoscope of nightmarish images that so masterfully convey the very essence of the story. Readers who enjoy the “book within a book” concept as much as I do will appreciate excerpts from Susannah’s blog giving her account of what it is like to be the parent of a missing child. Whilst I can’t say I particularly “liked” Susannah, she is a masterful creation, a flawed character with an emotional depth that drove the story for me. Her blog was an imaginative way to get glimpses into her mind that added that extra something as the mystery unravelled.

As the boundaries between reality and fantasy become blurred, the story takes on a more sinister tone, which chilled me to the core – so very clever! Only to end with a final reveal that had me totally gobsmacked.


Okay, before I give anything away, let’s sum it up: if you are a fan of a chilling mystery with an atmospheric, gothic setting, an unreliable narrator and a little sprinkling of a magical element, then I strongly recommend this book. Parkin has rapidly made her way onto my list of authors to look out for, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

Thank you to Netgalley and Legend PRess for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.

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